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Five votes rule at school board

Both law director and state AG opine

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

On Dec. 2, Tennessee Attorney General Herb Slattery shot a hole through the provision in Superintendent James McIntyre’s contract requiring six votes – a supermajority of the nine-member board of education – to fire him.

Opinion 14-102 came in response to a question from Oak Ridge Sen. Randy McNally (who also represents a sliver of Knox County) asking whether such a contract provision can override state law, which calls for local school boards to conduct their business by a simple majority vote.

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A champagne announcement

Lynn Pitts
Faith Columnist

Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth …

(Luke 1: 11-14 NRSV)

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Campbell Station Inn

Malcolm Shell
Features columnist

For docents at the Farragut Folklife Museum, one of the most frequently asked questions – posed by both newcomers and longtime residents – is this: “Tell me something about the stately old home on the corner.” Of course, they are inquiring about the Avery Russell home at the intersection of Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike.

The original home was built in the Federalist style that was common on the frontier in the late 1700s. There has always been some question about when the home was built and who built it. It was first thought that Col. David Campbell, the co-founder of Campbell’s Station, built the home as early as 1810. Perhaps this misconception came from the fact that locally it was called “Campbelton,” prompting many to assume the Campbell family had built it.

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Time marches on, except when it sprints

Larry Van Guilder
Government/Politics columnist

No sense in denying my innate charm any longer. In the past few months I’ve gained many friends, and the only thing that’s changed is the approach of my 65th birthday.

It could be that air of wisdom that surrounds us elder statesmen, even though most of my new friends want to sell me something. But, heck, we all have to make a living, and if you can’t count on your friends to buy your product, who can you count on?

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Trying week frays tempers, loosens tongues

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Last week, the school board had important business that stretched Monday’s workshop into a three-hour ordeal. At Wednesday’s voting meeting, board members burned through the long agenda: approving a contract for teachers, who have been working without one since 2011, appointing one another to committees, and discussing board member Karen Carson’s objections to the way the vote to discontinue the SAT-10 test for grades K-2 was conducted.

Monday workshops exist to allow board members to work out differences in the sunshine and ease the process of coming to agreements, so it’s not unusual for the voting meeting to be considerably shorter. But this one was different.

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James G. Sterchi (1867-1932)

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Francois Sterchi had been a commissioner and archivist in Switzerland, but he fled to the United States to escape political turmoil in his native country. Like many Swiss immigrants to the area, he first settled atop the Cumberland Plateau in Wartburg. Finding the soil too poor for successful farming, he moved to north Knox County along Beaver Creek.

One of Francois Sterchi’s sons, Jean L.A. Sterchi, married Parthena Tunnell, and the union produced 10 children. Their eighth child, James Gilbert Sterchi, was born on June 23, 1867. He attended local schools until he was 17 and then took a sales job with Cullen and Newman, a glassware wholesaler. Those years made him an excellent judge of character and enhanced his “people skills.”

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